Now that Tom Brady is gone, what happens to Julian Edelman?

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COMMENTARY

It wasn’t supposed to finish like this.

Not for Tom Brady, and definitely not for the Patriots.

And it shouldn’t finish like this for Julian Edelman, both.

The story of Tom Brady isn’t full with out his trusty slot receiver from Kent State, who rose from a seventh-round draft decide to one of many best large receivers in franchise historical past.

And the story of Julian Edelman isn’t full with out his finest good friend, Brady, who additionally occurs to be the man throwing him the ball.

Like Edelman, Brady rose from being an afterthought draft decide (No. 199 total, and don’t you overlook it) to his present standing as a quarterback many think about to be the best of all-time. It’s this shared underdog, chip-on-your-shoulder mentality that has helped these two California boys develop so shut and achieve a lot collectively on the sector.

Who can overlook the go-ahead landing catch in Super Bowl XLIX in opposition to the Seahawks to place the Patriots up 28-24 with two minutes to go? Or the miraculous fingertips seize late in Super Bowl LI in opposition to the Falcons to maintain the comeback bid alive?

The recollections these two have cast are infinite; their bond, unbreakable.

Because of their carefully intertwined careers, one can’t assist however marvel what the long run holds for Edelman and the Patriots.

After recovering from an ACL tear suffered within the 2017 preseason, Edelman rebounded properly within the ensuing two seasons, catching 174 balls mixed in 2018 and 2019 for 1,967 yards whole, to associate with 12 touchdowns.

There’s no denying Edelman’s worth to New England. Last season alone, he was sixth within the league in each targets per recreation and receptions per recreation, and he averaged 70 receiving yards per recreation, good for 20th within the league. Edelman continues to provide at a excessive charge, regardless of being 33 years outdated with a listing of accidents that isn’t getting shorter, having handled a myriad of accidents this season that included a separated AC joint in his shoulder, a knee damage, and a rib damage, in line with Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

Edelman, who will flip 34 in May, is on the again 9 of his profession. Time is of the essence for the squirrelly receiver, and with the way forward for the Patriots up within the air, after Brady left to signal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free company, it could be in each events’ finest curiosity to discover a commerce. The Buccaneers, who’re flush with cap area, might be an possibility.

The Bucs may use a slot receiver like Edelman to enhance their dynamic receiver duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Adding Edelman would enhance their possibilities at a title and provides Brady again his safety blanket, one thing that shall be particularly vital as he transitions into a brand new crew.

From the Patriots perspective, does a commerce make sense?

Edelman is signed by way of the 2021 season with a cap hit of $9.67 million, in line with Miguel Benzan of PatsCap. Trading him would create $3.6 million in cap area, one thing that the Patriots are quick on proper now, largely because of the $13.5 million cap hit they incurred after Brady’s departure.

New England buying and selling Edelman can be an enormous blow to a receiving corps that’s already skinny as is. N’Keal Harry, coming off a shaky, injury-plagued rookie season, can be thrust right into a extra outstanding function, and Mohamed Sanu, who had offseason ankle surgical procedure, would even be anticipated to provide greater than he did within the second half of final season. A commerce of Edelman would elevate much more query marks for a crew that’s going by way of essentially the most roster turnover it has skilled since 2012. The short-term influence of a commerce can be a tricky blow.

Coach Bill Belichick has at all times proven a willingness to half with a participant two years too early fairly than two years too late (see: Brady, Tom). The observe report for 34-year-old receivers with injury-riddled careers shouldn’t be nice. That Edelman, at 33, put up 100 catches for 1,117 yards in 2019 whereas coping with a number of important accidents is spectacular as is. It can be quite a bit to ask of Edelman to provide at that very same stage subsequent yr with extra tread on his tires and a brand new signal-caller beneath heart.

So, what would it not take to persuade the Patriots to half with their finest receiver, and one of many emotional leaders of the crew, in a season the place management shall be at a premium because the crew embarks on a brand new period?

Consider that the Houston Texans fetched a second-round decide and a 2021 fourth-round decide in sending DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round decide to the Arizona Cardinals. The Minnesota Vikings acquired a 2020 first-round decide, 2020 fifth-rounder, 2020 sixth-rounder, and 2021 fourth-rounder from the Buffalo Bills for Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round decide.

The Patriots would seemingly battle to get something larger than a fifth-round decide again in trade for Edelman. Despite his worth to the Patriots, giving up something greater than a late-round decide can be ill-advised for an additional crew. But would the Buccaneers, who’ve two fourth-round picks on this yr’s draft, be prepared to pay a premium to reunite their new quarterback along with his favourite pass-catching goal? It’s attainable.

If the Patriots may purchase decide No. 139 within the fourth spherical from the Bucs in trade for Edelman, that may be compensation that must make Belichick & Co. assume just a little bit, particularly contemplating the monetary aid that may accompany a commerce.

It received’t be a simple choice. None of those choices are right now of the yr. But buying and selling Edelman would assist each crew and participant, and it seems Edelman has already begun entertaining the potential of a reunion in Tampa Bay along with his quarterback.

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— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) March 19, 2020